Ex-con and criminologist Greg Newbold welcomes working prisons

A government plan to make prison inmates work 40-hour weeks to reduce boredom and reoffending is welcomed by ex-con turned Canterbury university criminologist Greg Newbold.

Professor Newbold, who in a much earlier life was jailed for drug dealing, says the idea of providing more working prisons is “a promising idea and signals a return towards the situation of prisons in the pre-1980s era when all inmates were expected to work”.

He says prison populations began to escalate in the 1980s and the costs of keeping prisoners in work became prohibitive.

“The problem with working prisons was that they tend to be expensive to run and were seldom economically viable.

“Most prisoners are unskilled and training them can be slow and costly.

“Expert training staff has to be employed, extra security has to be provided and the machinery and equipment needed to upskill prisoners can be expensive and require constant upgrading and maintenance."

Professor Newbold also says the products prisoners make cannot generally be sold on the open market because it is unfair for an unpaid labour force to compete with the industrial sector, “thus prison industries nearly always run at a loss”.

“However, if a significant number of prisoners could be trained for careers, put into work after release and diverted from lives of crime, the added costs could be money well spent.

“The idea of establishing more working prisons is a bold initiative and is certainly worth a try.”

rvaughan@nbr.co.nz

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15 Comments & Questions

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Agree in part, but there’s another much better, cheaper and quicker option.

With our FTA with China, send those with prison terms of three years or longer to China for their incarceration term. The cost of transporting them there and back and paying China to house and clothe them will still be considerably lower than here.

No time off for good behaviour. Plain rice and water, with 12-hour days, 7 days a week, of hard physical labour. Fighting or even answering back means losing food for that day. Attitudes of those recidivist offenders will soon be readjusted.

Getting tough with recidivist offenders who are trying out for wanna be ganstas need a good dose of hard reality to help them adjust their attitudes. The Chinese won’t tolerate prisoners with “attitude” and will soon sort them out.

Then once they return and can fully appreciate just how awesome NZ actually is then maybe with their new-found and re-adjusted attitude, coupled with the real threat of returning to China, will help them with the attitude readjustment. Plus, it might also help them realising what a doddle it would be doing menial employment for only 8 or 10 hours a day. Then NZ Inc would have no need to import Islanders to pick fruit in the season, Christchurch would have an eager supply of willing (and experienced) labourers … plus shipping them off to China will save the tax payer immensely! (Then with all the empty prison cells, Labour could try and sell them as “affordable, secure one-bedroom houses”?)

So, if we can’t shoot or hang the recidivist scum, at least reduce the cost to the taxpayer of housing and feeding them.

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Would that idea and description apply equally to finance company directors convicted of bettering themselves at investors' expense?

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Absolutely, the dishonest directors should be locked up and throw the warden away.

Those who lost money through greed and lack of due diligence... well, what's the saying and fools and their money soon parting?

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Brilliant idea, Solidarity!

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This is a great spin on forced labour camps... All hail glorious leader chairman Key.

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If forced labour camps are what it takes to keep NZ Inc safe from these recidivist offenders, then so be it. Hopefully, somewhere really cold and miserable, too.

A good deterant would be all it takes. Much better than a wet bus ticket slap across the wrists or having to sit in the naughty corner..

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Prior to the early 80s ALL prisons and borstals were working prisons. It was all done in the form of training as well as productive work.

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Growing vegetables does not need expensive training and the exercise and fresh air would be good for them.

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A sound idea which should be implemented ASAP
liberte

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A sensible suggestion from someone who can speak with authority.
Let's hope the govt has the courage to proceed.
WG

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Good lord, harsh treatment in prisons has historically been proven not to adjust reoffending rates so ranting on about rice and water is unrealistic. Old Key may need to also address the reasons some people turn to crime - the social reasons crime is an attractive pull for some people. Hell, I am more concerned about people like Watherson, intelligent sociopaths. Working in prisons, as Greg points out, may help with release because it's our (society's) attitude to them when they come out that can contribute to reoffending as well. Something many people dont like to accept. Depending on how it is set up it could pay off, but harsh treatment never will . Beat someone down and you either make them angry and they get worse or they become mentally disordered ... not very humane options.

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You're right, kind of. For recidivist offenders such as kiddie fiddlers, rapists, murderers and home invaders... a far more humane treatment would be to cull these scum from the human gene pool.

Saving both the taxpayer keeping these sub-humans alive, clothed, housed and fed - plus it would also protect the public with a 100% guarantee they would never reoffend ... something the parole boards often promise but always fail miserably at.

Gareth should be also pressing for the culling of these stray humans in the name of humane treatment and safety for the innocent against these evil individuals.

They are only a cost to NZ Inc and a hinderance to society. Shame their actions with the ultimate in veto vote... and cull them out of society... for a safer, much more pleasant NZ.

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I don't know it might work, but I thought locking up less people would be a better strategy.

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How about we make the low offenders work in the fruit farms doing the jobs that the illegal immigrants do, it would cut back on the immigration chasing them around and again provide a solid background and structure for when they have served their term.
Make them earn their keep like we have to in the real world, if they don't do their bit then they don't get the privileges.

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Why are we thinking of giving jobs to prisoners when we have such a high unemployment rate? Give the jobs to the people that are struggling to put food on the table.

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